The good news: The Lost Ones determine that Bae isn’t actually the
droid boy their boss has been looking for, and they decide to let him live in captivity. (That boss? He is, of course, the one and only Peter Pan, though it’s only now that Rufio dares speak his name.) The bad news: From their discussion, we learn who they’ve actually been looking for -- a certain apple-cheeked moppet who’s got a real affinity for clunky exposition.
But as the episode begins, Henry isn’t in any immediate danger from Peter’s goons. He is, however, thisclose to getting murdered by his very own grandfather -- until Emma and the Charmings enter the scene in the nick of time. Though they save the kid’s life, they’re also there to pass along dire news about Bae (shot and lost through a portal) and the curse’s failsafe (stolen by Growen and Tamara, who are activating it with a dwarf’s ax as we speak).
The motley crew heads back to Snow’s apartment. There, they consult with Regina and Hook, who’s decided to switch allegiances once more. The gang decide that the queen will use her magic to contain the black diamond’s wicked power, while Charming and Hook will ambush the villains and steal their magic beans. (How do they know that Hook won’t attempt to double-cross them yet again? Simple: "If he tries anything, I’ll shoot him in the face," the prince snarls. So much for bluebirds and whistling while you work!) Everyone else will gather up Storybrooke’s residents; once Hook and Charming return, they’ll all flee the town via portal.
At first, everything seems to go according to plan. The townsfolk gather at Granny’s; Hook and David snag a single precious legume; Emma and Regina easily find the diamond working its magical voodoo in the mines. Soon, though, it becomes clear that there’s one major wrinkle: Regina doesn’t intend to escape with everybody else. Instead, she’s going to finally take responsibility for her actions, sacrificing her own life so that everyone else may live. (Fantasy stories sure do love their Christ figures.) "Everyone looks at me as the Evil Queen, including my son," she tells Emma gravely before beginning to absorb the diamond’s dark magic. "Let me die as Regina."
It’s a poignant, moving moment of real character development... one that’s made entirely moot by what happens next. Since none of the Storybrookites want Regina to die -- wait, why is that again? She murdered an entire village, guys! -- they decide instead to send the failsafe itself through a portal. At no point does the group pause to wonder whether doing this means sentencing another world to certain death.
And when Emma and her family arrive back in the mines to drop the bean -- only to discover that Hook has, of course, double-crossed them by stealing the MacGuffin for himself -- Regina still doesn’t have to go through with her sacrifice. Instead, Emma suddenly realizes that she can use her own ill-defined magical powers to help the queen absorb the shock, instantly rendering the failsafe harmless. This “twist” wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the midseason finale’s dumb squid ink thing -- but it was still a painfully obvious development that took way too long to actually, you know, develop.
And then Once throws us a genuine curveball.
NEXT: The Three Least-Liked Amigos